Social media companies remove “coyote whacking” videos as offensive, yet practice remains legal in Wyoming
For Immediate Release
August 20, 2019
Contact: Erik Molvar, Executive Director, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910
LARAMIE, Wyo. – Conservationists today questioned the inaction of Wyoming state lawmakers and law enforcement in light of social media’s removal of a video montage of “coyote whacking.” The video shows a number of snowmobilers chasing coyotes to exhaustion using snowmobiles, running over the animals repeatedly with their machines, then beating the animals to death against the sides of the snowmobiles. Yesterday the video was pulled off YouTube and reportedly deleted on Facebook threads, but the practice itself is apparently legal in Wyoming.
“Blocking videos of such a barbaric practice makes sense from the standpoint of basic human decency,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director for Western Watersheds Project. “But then why does Wyoming continue to allow such a horrifically cruel death for native wildlife?”
Under Wyoming state law (W.S. 6 § 6-3-203), “coyote whacking” with a snowmobile could qualify as felony animal cruelty, an offense that can carry a penalty for each count of up to two years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. A Wyoming legislative committee recently considered and rejected proposed legislation to explicitly ban “coyote whacking.” Though it is a well-established principle in law enforcement circles that animal abuse is a gateway activity leading to more serious violent crimes, the anti-predator hostility and pro-livestock agenda of the state has apparently clouded lawmakers’ judgment regarding what should be legally and socially acceptable behavior in Wyoming.
“This activity should be seen as a crime against native wildlife, and it is certainly shocking that animal cruelty laws haven’t already been used to put the perpetrators in jail,” said Molvar. “By voting down a specific law that bans coyote whacking with snowmobiles, the Wyoming legislature has sent a message that it condones this practice. If the State of Wyoming can’t find the ethics and the willpower to get this done, then federal agencies that manage public lands need to close these lands to all snowmobiling as a means of preventing this atrocity against nature from ever happening again, at least on public lands.”
The video’s removal from YouTube was accompanied by a redirect to a page regarding “violent or graphic content policies,” which explained in relevant part a prohibition on “[c]ontent where there is infliction of unnecessary suffering or harm deliberately causing an animal distress.” Calls to YouTube for further explanation were not accepted.
“We agree with YouTube that this type of behavior is unacceptable and shouldn’t be promoted for sport,” Molvar concluded. “Now it’s time for Wyoming to get with the program.”